To gain a supportive and sustainable improvement process you need to have a culture that is focused on the goals of the company. You’ve got to win the hearts and minds of all employees by engaging them in the improvement process and rewarding positive behaviour. In my experience the majority of people don’t resist change, they resist being changed. You need everyone on board to gain a real competitive advantage.
The key to success and sustaining an improvement culture is getting people to think about value every day. All employees must be thinking about what they do, what they see and what they can do to improve it. It’s about creating a whole new way of thinking.
What tools and techniques are required to develop culture change?
It is important that you have a good idea of where you are and where you want to be and ensure this is communicated throughout the business regularly. You will also need to set targets that are achievable and measureable to keep track of your progress. Review these targets quarterly to ensure no momentum is lost.
There are a large number of employees that are reluctant to get involved and refuse to show any interest. This may be due to us trying to change before and not making much progress. How do we win these people over?
It sounds like you have been a victim of ‘Kamikaze Kaizen’. This is a term used to describe an improvement initiative that is sporadic and never really gets to the route cause of the problem. People have spent months on a project and never really see any substantial benefit.
To win your people over you should get a high level of involvement (including Managers and Directors). This will reassure them that what you are doing is important and that you respect their time as much as your own. Log all ideas that are raised no matter how insignificant they may seem and most importantly feedback in a timely manner. People’s ideas should be addressed within days rather than in months. This does not mean that you under any obligation to implement everything just let your staff know that it has been considered.
We’ve tried everything and they won’t participate, how is it best to handle the situation?
There are probably 20 per cent of people in your business who will do almost anything to support change (the stars). Around 60 per cent will sit on the fence and wait to see how it goes (the sheep). When they see other staff getting involved they will follow. The other 20 per cent will be a bit of a struggle and a challenge to bring along (the anchor draggers). No time should be wasted on these people as they will drain your resources with every excuse known to man.
Your target audience are the sheep, once you have these people convinced you have 80% of your workforce behind your project. Focus on converting them and you isolate those anchor draggers. Once you have some momentum and a robust improvement culture you will create a tension whereby those anchor draggers will either conform or leave.
Recognition and reward is very important and you should reward positive behaviour, but not necessarily with financial incentives. Celebrate success in a public way via newsletters, flyers, posters, word of mouth, vouchers, early finish times, days out.
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